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11/6/2007
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5 Great, Lesser-Known Security Suites

While big-name security suites such as Norton and McAfee dominate the market, there are others out there that may be just as good -- or better. We look at five alternative security suites.



Security Suites


•  Introduction

•  Dr. Web Antivirus

•  ESET Smart Security

•  MS Live OneCare

•  TrustPort Workstation

•  ZoneAlarm Security Suite


•  Image Gallery

•  Features Chart

TrustPort Workstation sports an interesting mix of system-protection tools -- aside from the usual stuff like antivirus, anti-spam, and firewall, there's a virtual encrypted disk utility, digital signatures for e-mail, and data-shredding tools.

The antivirus portion of TrustPort has one immediately unique feature: the ability to use multiple antivirus scanning engines, as licensed by the manufacturer. By default the Norman (not Norton!) antivirus engine is installed, but others can be licensed and added if needed. You optionally can use "sandbox" on-demand scanning, which adds further protection, but at the cost of performance (it's off by default). If you attempt to download an infected file through an HTTP connection, regardless of what browser you're using, you'll be redirected to a page that says "Virus infection found" with details about the virus. Viruses intercepted during a file-copying operation throw up an "Infection found / Access denied!" dialog which closes automatically after 30 seconds.

TrustPort Workstation
(click image to see larger view)
TrustPort Workstation
AEC
$55 for 1 license/year
View the image gallery
TrustPort also scans incoming e-mail on port 110 for viruses, independent of whatever e-mail client you're using. The mail scanner also includes an anti-spam engine, which adds an "X-Spam-Found" header to the message, but if you're already running a client that has its own spam controls, you can shut this off. The anti-spam engine has a blacklist/whitelist function, but there doesn't appear to be an easy way to add entries to either list. (It would be nice to have some way to integrate an external address book with this function.)

The firewall's not as immediately user-friendly as, say, ZoneAlarm's firewall; you need to dig into it a bit if you want to customize it beyond the most basic behaviors. You can define application-specific rules, for instance, but only by hand -- there doesn't appear to be any learning mechanism for applications that ask for network access. The default rules seem to be decently well-constructed, though, and you can always edit them or revert to the factory settings without too much trouble. A small clutch of network utilities -- like a geographic ping tool, and a network-traffic monitor -- help round things out nicely. (The presence and design of these tools is to me another hint that the suite as a whole is meant more for professionals than end users.)

TrustPort's encryption tools are a mini-suite unto themselves. You can create encrypted file archives; sign, encrypt, and decrypt files using public/private key pairs; and create encrypted virtual disks. The latter is essentially what's available in the third-party open-source freeware program TrueCrypt (which I've evaluated before), and the implementation here is similar -- the virtual disk is just a file which can be stored anywhere, and is encrypted with your choice of algorithm and password. When mounted, it behaves just like a regular drive, except that all data copied to it is encrypted on the fly. The data shredder, too, is not functionally all that different from freeware programs that do the same thing, but it's handy to have around.

The whole feature mix for TrustPort -- and its price tag ($55 for one machine/year) -- makes it feel like it's aimed more at professionals than regular users. But that same feature mix may make it that much more appealing to a user with a more professional bent.

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